Seeing space through spores


Justin Kim

Justin Kim at the VASTS program on Old Dominion Campus in Summer of 2022, presenting his thesis to a group of fellow peers.

Mold is a scary thing, but don’t fret because there is no way it could cause a nuclear zombie apocalypse, maybe. Senior Justin Kim explores how Cladosporium Sphaeropsermum can allow for future Mars travel through installation within a shell-like layer, in his magnet presentation.

Green, spores, gunky and circle shaped as it grows through a petri dish under a microscope. This funky, radioactive fungi could be used to help explore space, and even to Mars.

“I liked meeting like-minded people and being able to tour NASA Langley,” said Kim.

Exploring how to maintain a safe bubble to control the mold, he spent his junior year summer at a NASA program, VASTS or Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholarship, with students from all over VBCPS. He and other high school students presented to a special board about how mold could be the future after spending several weeks finding logistics behind their thesis. 

He has always been interested in space since he was a little kid. 

Space was an escape from reality. Not knowing what is out there allowed him to wonder.

Simplicity was not present in his senior project. He had faced more hardships than successes, yet he still persisted.

Not once did he stop trying. Night after night he researched and looked for someone or anyone who would take his thesis seriously, or simply respond to emails sent at 3 a.m. 

He used his humor to show his interest in how Mars and space exploration is something that could be achieved in the future. Creating a final product full of color and creativity, yet also containing useful information that showed just how dedicated he was to his project.